By Sgt. 1st Class Elizabeth Breckenkamp, 80th Training Command (Reserve):
(El Paso, Texas, Dec.14, 2017)
When Soldiers deploy, there’s more to getting ready than simply packing bags and cutting orders. From family care plans and financial paperwork, to issuing equipment and protective gear, the staff at the Continental United States Replacement Center help prepare all those who are deploying.
The transfer of authority ceremony conducted at Fort Bliss Dec. 1 signified handing over CONUS Replacement Center operations from the outgoing 1st Battalion, 304th Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 98th Training Division, 108th Training Command, to the incoming 7th Personnel Service Battalion, 95th Regiment, 4th Brigade, 94th Training Division, 80th Training Command.
Until 2013, the Army sent deploying Soldiers and civilians to various locations throughout the nation to accomplish this massive pre-deployment preparation and training. Seeing a need to streamline these processes in one central location, the Army created the CRC headquartered here. It’s a one-stop shop for all Army components – active, Reserve and National Guard – plus Department of Defense civilians and contractors deploying and re-deploying.
The CRC’s mission is to receive, process, equip and conduct Theater Specific Individual Requirements Training for all Army deployments to and redeployments from theaters of operations in support of overseas contingency operations. In some cases, they prepare units to deploy, but the bulk of the center’s operations prepares and transitions individuals.
Every 12 months, the CRC rotates a new battalion to take charge of its operations. Lt. Col. Michael Child, commander of the outgoing battalion, was mobilized with his unit a year ago. He and his unit served as the CRC 5. Child passed on the responsibilities at the TOA ceremony to Lt. Col. Adrian Jackson, the incoming commander of the new CRC 6.
“It’s similar to a changing of responsibility,” Child said. “During our operations, we have prepared and deployed more than 18,000 personnel. The people who made up CRC 5 were incredibly adaptable and flexible to provide ready and trained military and civilians for missions around the world.”
Soldiers came from brigades throughout the 94th TD, with a few from outside the 94th, to make up the incoming CRC 6. They removed their 94th unit patch and replaced it with the First Army Division West patch. Of these 115 Soldiers, two deployed to Kuwait, while the rest of them are staying here to support CRC operations over the next 12 months.
As executive officer of the CRC, Maj. Jason Cornett recently came on board to establish stability for units mobilizing in and out of the CRC over the next three years.
“With this new group of Soldiers coming on board, we want to have some continuity,” Cornett said. “About 15 Soldiers from the outgoing battalion decided to stay on post and continue with the new unit that’s coming in. With me being the CRC active duty executive officer here, I maintain continuity by helping the next units transition to working at the center.”
The center has supported the deployment of military and civilian personnel to more than 36 nations. They support the validation and deployment of approximately 850 deploying and redeploying non-unit replacement personnel every week.
Being part of the newly formed CRC 6 is an exciting opportunity for many Soldiers, including Sgt. Shaunica Amantine, a human resources specialist and CRC 6 member. She explained how she sees the CRC mission as an integral part of the big Army picture.
“We get to help so many people who are going and coming back,” Amantine said. “I’m honored to be part of this great opportunity to truly make a difference. We play a very important role in helping people in their transitioning, things like issuing supplies and making sure their pay is in order. And then helping them come back home is exciting, too.”
Brig. Gen. Hector Lopez, commander of the 94th TD, explained the CRC mission is essential to Chief of the Army Reserve Lt. Gen. Charles Luckey’s Ready Force X deployment model.
“In the event that we have to surge, for any contingency in the world, these are the folks who are making it happen,” Lopez said. “This CRC organization ensures that we can provide ready, lethal and capable Soldiers into formations that can win our nation’s wars.”